Herberger Institute develops new program with hope of improving diversity

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is developing a program that officials hope will help improve diversity among its students in the coming years.

Jake Pinholster, Associate Dean for Policy and Initiative at Herberger, said the Herberger Institute is in the “early stages” of developing Projecting All Voices, which is an initiative that aims to provide more spaces for minority students within the arts programs at Herberger.

Projecting All Voices is set to become a multimillion dollar initiative with the help of corporate and foundational donors to the program, Pinholster said.

The new initiative founded by the Herberger schools comes during a time when many have noted a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, as exemplified with this year’s ever so popular #OscarsSoWhite.

While some Herberger students are satisfied with the diversity they see within their school, they are also let down by the misrepresentation they see in the entertainment and arts industry.

“We have a variety of students but the diversity isn’t reflected in the industry,” filmmaking practices freshman Cassaundra Navarro said.

According to the 2015 Hollywood diversity report, in 2013 minorities were underrepresented “greater than two to one among film leads.” These sobering statistics lead students like Navarro to feel “discouraged” in regards to what awaits them after graduating.

For the Herberger Institute as with many of the other programs at ASU, inclusion has been one of the biggest concerns with more and more programs that have been created to make more students feel included in every aspect of the University.

“I think there needs to be more of it on every level; students, faculty members and types of shows being put on,” theatre freshman Lila Perkins said. “This season definitely was a step in the right direction in terms of diversity of playwrights and strong female leads. It's improving, but it's still pretty white and male oriented.”

Initiatives like Projecting All Voices are meant to not only account for more diversity and inclusion at ASU, but the initiative is intended to create a national cohort comprised of multiple universities as Pinholster pointed out.

With the help of diversity and inclusion efforts made by the Herberger Institute the students will change the landscape of the arts to come.

The hope is that such programs will contribute to the idea that the institute “welcomes students with open arms and open minds,” Navarro said.

Reach the reporter at jdivy1@asu.edu or follow @joydanielleivy on Twitter.

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